Deposits of coal, formed over 300 million years ago, lie beneath almost all of Staffordshire. Accessible surface outcrops were mined for domestic use in the Middle Ages. Industry, such as it existed, was cottage industry. All that began to change in the 16th century. The first blast furnace in the Midlands was built in Staffordshire around 1560. Demand for coal increased and rocketed with the Industrial Revolution. Mining was no longer a cottage industry. Extraction required teams of fit men and collective, structured employment marked the beginning of private enterprise industry. As decline set in whole communities faced the challenge of a new life. Commercial mining ended in the country in 1998 when Silverdale, the last deep pit, closed. Since then, derelict buildings and slagheap have been reclaimed and landscaped, but memories remain of a once proud industry and a lost way of life.